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Your Wednesday Night In...

Your Wednesday Night In… August 1993


Wednesday, 4th August 1993

PICK OF THE DAY

7pm FANTASTIC FACTS!  ITV
Gasp! Jonathan Ross on ITV! This was pretty big news at the time, JR moving from his familiar perch on Channel 4 into the mainstream, his first vehicle for the light channel being this series which was one of the newly-arrived Carlton’s flagship entertainment shows. Sadly for all concerned, it wasn’t very good, a pretty bog-standard collection of silly adverts and Members Of The Great British Public With A Story To Tell, this week including a pair of deodorant testers and an orchestra who used a motorbike as an instrument, like much in the way of Carlton’s early shows attempting to subvert the conventions of light entertainment (big pop art-style graphics, arch scripts) while simultaneously being light entertainment, and not really achieving either, the only memorable bit coming with Wilf Lunn came on at the end to blow some things up. Sadly, there was even worse to come for Jonathan on ITV.

ALSO SHOWING:

10pm PRO-CELEBRITY UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE, BBC2
Actually, despite all the ire heaped on the Beeb by the papers, we quite enjoyed this summer, as they dug out the likes of the first series of Alas Smith & Jones, vintage Omnibuses and a season of old Wednesday Plays – this week, Peter Terson’s The Fishing Party from 1972 – to fill the gaps, all of which was all new to us. This is a bit less exciting as it was a repeat from the previous Christmas, and specifically BBC2’s Granadaland evening. The show itself wasn’t a going concern at the time, but Bamber came back in the chair for one last time to host a battle between famous alumni – including Stephen Fry and John Simpson – and current students. All a bit of fun, clearly it struck a bit of a chord as twelve months later BBC2 would be about to welcome back the show full-time.

8.50pm CLARKSON’S STAR CARS, BBC1
Bad news, everyone – the BBC have run out of money! Well, not quite, but a massive accounting cock-up led to a bit of a black hole in the budget and meant the BBC1 schedules in 1993 were particularly threadbare, and never more so than in the height of the summer. This is actually the week where the Radio Times put Dad’s Army on the cover, ostensibly to mark its 25th anniversary, which was considered completely taking the piss. Happily for the Beeb, though, this did coincide with the explosion in telly nostalgia – helped by the telly-obsessed likes of Michael Jackson ascending to positions of power in broadcasting – and so many hours were filled with umpteen clip shows, especially in this awkward 10-minute slot filling a gap after an import. We’d just had the Bake’s majestic TV Heroes in this slot, but there were others, including this slight production where Jez – long before his world domination and still just the permed one off Top Gear – linked clips of The Sweeney and The Saint and mused on iconic telly motors. Doesn’t sound much, but as one of the few new programmes on BBC1 that week, it must have been pretty close to nabbing that Radio Times cover.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Applemask

    August 1, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    You printed those listings backwards. You’re referring in the University Challenge to things we haven’t read about yet in the Clarkson one. You’re telling the story out of narrative order. What are you, Alejandro González Iñárritu?

  2. Richard16378

    August 1, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I was in France on this day so I missed all this.

    When I was young going on holiday meant almost all the programmes would be different when I got back, even in 2 weeks.

    TV in the summer tends to a mixed bag of repeats & filler shows so this isn’t surprising.

  3. THX 1139

    August 2, 2018 at 10:05 am

    What’s the difference between Star Cars and The Car’s the Star?

    • Applemask

      August 3, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Quentin Wilson and ten minutes.

  4. Glenn Aylett

    August 4, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    1993-94 was when the BBC decided to repeat all the classic Doctor Who stories from the seventies, sometimes on BBC1 at 7.30 on Fridays, or Sunday mornings on BBC2. I often wondered with fellow fans if this was a sign the BBC might bring back the series, if enough people enjoyed the repeats, but we had to wait another 11 years for a new series. Still it was nice to see such old favourites as The Green Death and The Pyramids Of Mars. Also the BBC2 repeats coincided with re runs of Tucker Jenkins era Grange Hills, so a double bonus.
    OTOH most contemporary BBC programming in 1993-94 was dire as John Birt’s dismal reign kicked in. You could make a TV Hell out of some of the dross they were showing then, Pets Win Prizes, Bygones, Eldorado, Tales of Para Handy( dreary drama about three men in a fishing boat) and Good Morning With Anne and Nick( cheapo This Morning rip off) must top the list.

    • Des Elmes

      September 21, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      You really did not like PWP, did you, Glenn?

      To be fair, though, it *was* a Marmite show – if you liked it, you loved it (as TVC did when the Bake was the host, of course), and if you didn’t like it, well, you didn’t like it.

      • Glenn Aylett

        September 22, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        I did like one show where a pregnant and tired Staffordshire Bull Terrier fell asleep during the show and couldn’t do its challenge as it was so tired, and where a cat decided to wind up the dog, which clearly wanted to be left alone. I wouldn’t say Pets was dire, as this one was quite amusing, just not one of Auntie’s better efforts. Was always a big fan of Big Break, though.

  5. Richard16378

    August 4, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    I remember those Dr Who repeats around the 30th anniversary & many rumours of the series being revived.

    The BBC seemed a mixed bag around this time, some classics & plenty of forgettable shows.

    I was always fond of Para Handy & Bygones but the others listed weren’t so good.

  6. Glenn Aylett

    August 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    @ Richard 16378, BBC comedy was still good with Birds Of A Feather, Ab Fab, 2.4 Children, One Foot In The Grave, and Men Behaving Badly topping the list, but their drama department was a total mess with a string of flops and some truly dire entertainment shows. Even the cheap ratings topper from a few years previously, Neighbours, was falling in the ratings as people realised it was just another cheap, poor Aussie soap.

  7. Richard16378

    August 5, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    I remember drama being hit & miss, while Between The Lines generated a lot of column inches it didn’t last long.

    The BBC were unlucky that the Sunday Night favourites All Creatures Great & Small, Howard’s Way and Bergerac all finished at the start of the 1990s, & their replacements all flopped.

    There were also a rash of police shows (not all BBC) that tried to emulate Prime Suspect.

  8. Glenn Aylett

    August 5, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    There was a ratings slump at the BBC as bad as the one in 1983, but there was no Bill Cotton or Michael Grade to help them this time, and Grade wouldn’t return to the BBC as he didn’t like John Birt.

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